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The World as a Safe Space


If I thought coming out to someone and telling them that I happen to be attracted to women was bad, how on earth must people who associate with a completely different gender to the one they were born - as well as having varied sexual attractions - feel? How must they feel when they leave the house dressed in a way that doesn’t fit with societal norms? I thought I was brave but these humans are incredible. To face a barrage of abuse, judgement and shaming every day, just for leaving the house as the person they feel they are inside is beyond comprehension.

For a human to make another human feel as such is unacceptable. And of course, this trickles down into different strands: misogyny, racism, etc. – and it’s for these people that I have the utmost respect. Safe spaces exist for these people. People argue it’s a travesty that there is a need for safe spaces to exist, and I agree with that. But this is the world that we live in and until the scales have been tipped, safe spaces must exist for these people to have somewhere to be themselves. Free from judgement, harassment and people who just aren’t that sound.

Some bad ass bitches and I run an LGBT+ collective / monthly event called Grrrl Crush in Edinburgh – parties run by girls for girls who like girls, and their pals. It’s straight-friendly and trans-inclusive because we believe that everybody is welcome anywhere, anytime. We operate a safe space policy that ensures those that come to our parties know that they are in safe hands and that disrespectful behaviour will not be tolerated (we allow bad ass behaviour, of course).

Unfortunately, there are a few people who have attended our events who haven’t played by these simple rules. An older cis male who stood in front of our all-female bands as they were setting up, shirt unbuttoned as he blew vape smoke all over them, asking if any of them wanted cocaine springs to mind. Later that same night, a trans woman was questioned about their genitalia - behaviour one might assume most would deem unacceptable. Lo and behold a debate was sparked. Should everyone be welcome in a safe space? Should everyone be welcome in a gay bar? Should everyone be welcome in a bar that’s geared towards heterosexuals? It’s difficult to know where to draw the line. The reason we wanted Grrrl Crush to be straight-friendly was because there were so many gay-friendly bars. Why couldn’t it work the other way around? The nature of these parties is that they are by their very nature exclusive, so making it inclusive contradicts its purpose. But can’t we all live in peace and harmony?

The reason we have safe spaces is because there are people in the world who make other people feel unsafe. Those people need to put themselves in shoes other than their own and practise some good old-fashioned self-awareness. Ask yourself: do you feel safe when you leave the house? Can you wear whatever you like when you go to the shop? Can you go for a drink without somebody questioning your genitals?Imagine being unable to do these things and you’ll gain some understanding of how difficult these simple tasks can be for a lot of people. Leaving the house or going to the shop or watching some live music with your pals shouldn’t be a chore. Life is hard enough as it is without all that on top of it. Accept each other. Be sound. Support. Stand up for what you believe. Make life easy for others.

We’re all in this together and we’re all getting out the same way, so let’s practise some self-awareness and empathy by making our communities a safe space. When you put it like that, the notion of a person having to be confined to one place to feel safe seems somewhat ridiculous.

Support your local girl gang


Phan Grrrl x

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